Indoor Workout Tips: 6 Ideas to Keep You Moving After a Busy Summer

We all welcomed summer’s warm weather and longer days and relished the chance to get outside and move after what seemed like the longest spring ever. But as the days get shorter and a little chillier, it’s time to think about staying fit with indoor workouts.

Whether you workout at home or belong to a gym, it’s essential to keep up your fitness routine for your health and wellness. Experts recommend setting a goal of 30 minutes of movement per day (at least). That means getting in your 10,000 steps with walking, playing sports, yoga, weightlifting, or running. Whatever type of movement you prefer, exercise should be part of your routine.

If you’ve taken the summer off from fitness, it’s essential to start slow. Follow expert tips to get back to exercise and pace yourself to prevent beginners’ workout injuries. Should you experience any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our physical therapy team for assessment. The Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin is here to help you move pain-free, indoors and out.

Ready to get motivated for better health and fitness? Follow these indoor workout tips to keep you moving for the rest of the year!

1. Schedule It

Scheduling your workouts may look and feel a little strange at first, but studies have shown that those who plan their workouts tend to be better at keeping the commitment. Put your gym trip or your morning treadmill jog right on your calendar, like any necessary appointment.

Working out indoors can feel demotivating. After all, there’s no fresh air, no new sights or sounds as you pound the pavement. Putting your workout plans on paper helps you visualize your routine and create a plan that will keep you on track.

Set a popup reminder on your phone and an alarm to help you get out of bed if you plan a morning workout. If you’re still finding it a struggle to keep your appointment for fitness, engage a friend or family member to keep you on track. Indoor workouts don’t always have to be a solo affair. Get your spouse, your kids, or a pal on board. Even if you’re completing workouts on YouTube or taking a virtual yoga class, you’ll feel more committed with a buddy.

2. Find a Variation of What You Love

What kind of exercise do you enjoy? Some people love the slow stretch of yoga or Tai Chi; others prefer the fast pace of a virtual spin class or a treadmill run with headphones. The most important part of staying motivated to workout indoors is to find something you genuinely enjoy.

Workouts shouldn’t feel like drudgery. Yes, we all have days when it feels taxing to take a stroll around the block, but for the most part, anyone can find a movement method they love (or at least don’t hate). If you enjoy dancing, look for hip-hop, Zumba, or even bellydance workout videos online. Sports fanatic? Find your favorite component of your sport and translate it into an indoor routine. Maybe you love the fast movements, the hand-eye coordination, or the social component. Get creative to apply those same aspects to your inside activities.

Workouts are “work,” but they should still feel enjoyable and fun! While you’re pushing your body to build endurance and muscle, you should never push through the pain. If you’re experiencing discomfort that lasts for several days, consult with a professional to get back on track. Our PT team can help you get back in the game after an injury.

3. Mix It Up to Nix Boredom

One of the most common complaints about indoor workouts is that they can become boring. Treadmill running next to the washer and dryer feels like an endless punishment rather than a fun way to get fit. How do you break up the monotony? Try something new!

Mixing up your workouts can help you build muscles that prevent injury. For example, runners who experience runners’ knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome) may find relief by building their glutes and quadriceps to improve their form. This means balancing runs with strength training and muscle building activities as well.

Almost any exerciser gets mental and physical benefits from mixing up their routine. Of course, if you find an activity you love, it’s much easier to keep it up. You don’t need to quit biking or throw out that well-worn fitness DVD. Simply add-in another activity or a different spin to keep your workouts fresh and exciting.

4. Incentivize Your Workouts

Maybe workouts are a mental battle for you. Many people struggle with finding motivation and the energy to fit in regular daily workouts. If you need some extra motivation, try creating an incentive to keep you going. This “dangling carrot” approach is a powerful way to maintain your momentum. Promise yourself a fun activity, an extra-long bath, an uninterrupted movie, or new workout gear if you keep your commitment to exercise.

A reward can be small and straightforward. Pick a guilty pleasure and save it for your workout. This type of motivation is called “temptation bundling.” For example, limit your favorite true-crime podcast, mystery audiobook, or cheesy reality show to treadmill time. Not only will time pass quickly, but you may find yourself going a little further so you can make it to the conclusion.

Other studies show some exercisers are more powerfully motivated by the stick than the carrot. In one study, researchers took money away from participants every time they skipped a workout. Those who experienced a loss were more motivated than those who were working towards gain. Put this theory to work with help from a friend. Perhaps a $5 donation to a charitable cause you don’t support for each skipped workout will keep you moving in the right direction.

5. Gamify Your Goals

In the past several years, fitness devices have shown us the power of gamification. There’s nothing quite as motivating as turning a workout into a game. Whether you use a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or another wearable, these devices give you feedback, help you track your goals, and provide a visual marker of your progress. When you compare goals with a friend and playfully compete, your motivation will increase. In one study, participants logged more daily steps when they tracked against family and friends.

Building on this concept, many app makers have found ways to make working out more fun through gamification. Some apps give you the ability to compete against friends or coworkers, cheering them on and sharing your achievements. Other apps turn activities into videogames like the Zombies, Run! app or the Superhero Workout app that have you tackling challenges like an action star!

Even gaming consoles are useful for building activity into your day. The success of Pokémon Go had players stepping up their activities and walking around their neighborhoods. Wii Fit and Xbox Kinect got people off the couch and moving a few years ago. Now, consoles like Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 all offer interactive motion and fitness games.

6. Take Advantage of Good Weather Days

If the thought of one more day in your home gym seems unbearable, bundle up and get outdoors! In the Midwest, there’s plenty of outdoor fitness activities that can keep you active and healthy all winter long. While we recommend caution around snow and ice to prevent winter slips and falls, you can still take advantage of warm, clear days almost any season of the year.

Working out outdoors provides many benefits, including mental health and motivation boosts. A Stanford study showed participants experienced lower anxiety and stress levels when they took an hour-long nature walk through trees and forests. Getting outdoors can uplift your mood and break up your day—something especially important if you’re working from home or in an indoor office.

Even if you can’t always reap the benefits of outdoor workouts on bad weather days, get outside whenever possible. A brisk walk through the crisp autumn air can do wonders for your health, mentally and physically. Those good days can keep you going on the days when you have to switch your workout to indoor-only.

Of course, the most crucial aspect of any fitness routine is building movement and activity into your schedule. As part of a healthy lifestyle, prioritize exercise indoors and out. Should you experience any pain or discomfort during your workout routine, contact us for an appointment. Our team of expert physical therapists and orthopedic specialists will help you keep moving all year long!